Tag Archives: wine

Weekend away: Oregon wine country

Hi there! How’s it going? Okay, so I promised I would be back with some pics from our little weekend getaway. I have to admit that my big camera was left in the hotel room because I am so addicted to Instagram. It was fun to capture the moments in a spontaneous (and easy) way with my phone!

We stayed in the historic town of McMinnville at the 3rd Street Flats. They are beautifully decorated, European style flats full of gorgeous decor, charm and local art. The complimentary bottle of wine and chocolates didn’t hurt either. Love this place and would stay again! We could walk to all the restaurants, bars, cafes, tasting rooms and shops!

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That first night we ate at the beautiful and romantic La Rambla! Spanish Tapas and fancy cocktails. Yes, please.

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Now don’t laugh but the whole point of this trip was, yes, to be romantic and go wine tasting but it was to also work on the re-design of my blog. I rarely ever get Chris’ undivided attention (and talent) so I took advantage of the situation and we parked at the Cornerstone cafe to geek out together and actually get some things accomplished! Grace & Ivy will be new and improved very soon! ;)

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After a little hard work, we had to go play and taste some wine so we packed up our laptops, hopped in the car and ended up in the tiny town of Carlton.

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We stopped into two places we had never tried before. Absolutely loved the French style Burgundy wines at Scott Paul!

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And a ten sample (yes ten!) wine flight with chocolates was a delight at Seven of Hearts!

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That night we got all dolled up and dined at Thistle. I LOVED this place. Intimate, delicious, charming with a totally vintage vibe. I was right at home.

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What a wonderful treat to get away with Chris! It felt amazing to recharge, re-connect and get inspired.  Thank you to my fabulous brother and his beautiful fiancée for taking our kids for the entire weekend!

If you haven’t gotten away with your partner lately…try and plan something. It is so worth it!

xo,

Ivy

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Filed under family, photography, Stories, Travel

Book club night & farmhouse style

Last night, I hosted my book club – a fabulous group of some the most interesting and intelligent woman I have ever met! (Lucky me!) When I attend a book club night, I am guaranteed a wonderful night of fascinating conversation, good doses of laughter, delicious food and wine and a lovely ambiance. Each lady is a talented host and cook. So, when it comes time for me to host, I want to give them that same decadent experience. I put a lot of pressure on myself to get it right and last night, I am proud (and relieved) to say was a hit!

The concept for my table design began the night before. I knew I wanted to use my latest treasure as the centerpiece – a beautifully rustic French wine bottle carrier.

(this beauty will be on sale in my shop very soon!)

The wine carrier makes me think – Farmhouse style – so that’s what I went with…

It made the perfect caddy to display the utensils…

A variety of textures – burlap, linen, lace, silver, glass, ceramics – creates that farmhouse feel. Rustic but elegant. Can you tell I had fun?

I knew we would be dining outside so I kept it in the same theme. I am so grateful to my beautiful purple hydrangea bush! She supplied all the florals!

Hydrangeas are so fabulous because they are like a hundred flowers on one stem! Popped these freshly cut blooms into crystal cut glasses and my simple table arrangements were done!

Had to put out my newly acquired antique French pitcher too! This one was sent to me from a woman in Normandy! So pretty with a vintage lace apron tucked inside…

The trailing wisteria over head completed the purple, white and green color palette…

I did spend a lot of time on decorating but I didn’t forget the FOOD! I whipped up a huge batch of Martha Stewart‘s Macaroni and Cheese! So very naughty, with a whole stick of butter and an obsene amount of cheese! However, I was so caught up in my decor that I didn’t take a picture of it…oops…so here’s one via Smitten Kitchen

I must say…it was delectable and everyone went back for seconds! Yah! A fresh garden salad and chocolate cake for dessert completed the simple but comforting meal.

All in all it was another fantastic night with my book club gals! Love you girls!

xo,

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Filed under decorate, Etsy, flowers, Food, garden, Home, interior design, Stories, vintage

Vicarious Vacations # 4: Luxembourg

Hello friends and Happy Friday! Welcome to our last Vicarious Vacation. I know the previous destinations have been off the beaten path but I couldn’t resist taking you here. Like many girls, I have a soft place in my heart for fairytale castles. So far…the only one I’ve ever seen, is the one in Disney World and frankly, I don’t think that counts. So, I decided to take you to the a land where fairytales castles were born – we are headed to gorgeous Luxembourg.

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When you are surrounded by three of Europe‘s most beautiful countries – Germany, France and Belgium – it’s hard not to be amazing! Map – here. The history of Luxembourg dates back to the year 963. Over the centuries, its territory may have diminished but it still stands as the richest country in the world and is often referred to as the “Green heart” of Europe. Beyond material wealth and banking success, Luxembourg offers a culturally diverse population, fantastic food and wine, breathtaking landscapes and an impressive art and theater scene. Oh, and then there are the castles…did I mention that already? Yes…there are over a dozen castles in this magical land. It makes my heart skip a little beat…

So where shall we stay you ask? We came here for fairy tales and I intend to deliver…Welcome to Chateau d’Urspelt. A castle fit for a princess right? This romantic castle has a 300 year old history and was terribly damaged in World War II.  In 2005, Mr. Freddy Lodomez came across this diamond in the rough, instantly fell in love and committed to having the Chateau restored to its original beauty. Thank you Freddy! What a prince!

Images via Chateau d’Urspelt

Lovely isn’t it? That claw-foot tub will be a fabulous treat later on.  I will try and contain the girlish squeals…but isn’t this place to die for!

Let’s go for a stroll…

This is the Grand Ducal Palace and official residence of the Grand Duke of Luxembourg – Henri and his lovely wife,  the Grand Duchess Maria Teresa.

A fairytale destination would not be complete without some Royalty, after all. As for Henri’s heir – Guillaume (William)…

well he fits the Prince bill rather nicely…don’t you think? Okay, enough Royal gawking…let’s keep exploring…

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Ahh…here we are at the Place d’Armes or as the locals refer to it – Plëss. It is truly the city’s living room and a fantastic place to people watch, listen to some live music and grab lunch at one of the numerous outdoor cafes. I’ve got the perfect one in mind…

Play to listen to the sounds of the plaza…

Here we are at Le Cafe Francais, one of the oldest brasseries’ in the city. Are you ready for some delicious food? They prepare a mix of French and Luxembourg style dishes here.  Luxembourg’s food is inevitably influenced by neighboring France and Germany, resulting in a rich blend – the delicacies of French cuisine artfully entwined with the robust, heartiness of Germanic dishes.  More recently the cultural influence of Luxembourg’s Portuguese immigrants is also emerging within many of Luxembourg’s recipes. You won’t leave the table hungry, that’s for sure. So let’s have a taste…

To pair with our meal, I have selected a lovely dry white wine, typical of the region or if you feel like bubbles, we can toast to our adventure with the local sparkling wine, Crémant de Luxembourg! Cheers!

Let’s start with a classic Luxembourg dish: Nettle Soup. Ever had this? I haven’t! Often served in the Spring, Nettle soup has a subtle, grassy taste, sweet and mild made rich with lovely cream and potatoes.

On to our next course…oooh…I don’t know about you but I am a total sucker for mussels!! So succulent, with all that buttery, wine sauce to sop up. Here in Luxembourg (in the French tradition) it is often served with pomme frites! Yum! This wildly popular dish is served in the months that have an “r”. October works, lucky for us. Here’s a recipe straight from the region. Recipe. Make sure you use a German or French Riesling for your sauce to make it truly Luxembourg style.

Okay dessert anyone? You know we can’t leave that out. How about some Questscheflued? aka Plum Tart – a local favorite. And no, I don’t know how to pronounce it. Dig in! It looks delightful and it’s heart shaped! Too cute. Recipe.

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Now that our tummies are full, I think it’s time to tour a real castle! We are heading to Vianden. It’s about an hour north of the city and is a beautiful medieval town, famous for its stunning castle and charming village. Let’s hop on the bus, I for one, can’t get into that castle quick enough!

*squeal* – sorry I couldn’t help it! Look the castle is up ahead!!

Isn’t it simply amazing? Straight from a storybook!  A little history: The castle was built between the 11th and 14th centuries and became the seat of the counts of Vianden. It was further developed until the 18th century but with the departure of the Counts of Luxembourg to the Netherlands combined with the effects of fire and an earthquake, it slowly deteriorated. The final blow came in 1820 when William I of the Netherlands sold it to a local merchant who in turn sold off its contents and masonry piecemeal, reducing it to a ruin. There were several attempts at restoration but these were hampered by problems of ownership. Victor Hugo lived in the castle for three months in 1871.Not until 1977, when Grand Duke Jean ceded the castle to the State, was it possible to undertake large-scale work, most of which has now been completed. – Wikipedia

Let’s go take the tour!

Check out the view overlooking the town of Vianden…gorgeous…

Can you imagine cooking up a feast in this kitchen?

Here is the castle’s chapel.

Oh, is that a wishing well?

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What shall we wish for? World peace? A castle of our very own? How about free plane tickets to anywhere in the world? hmmm…

Alright my friends, I think I will have to leave you here. While you ponder over your wish, I want to wish all of you the best and thank you for coming along with me on these Vicarious Vacations. I hope you have enjoyed them. I know I have. Thanks to Flickr for being a wellspring of beautiful images and talented photographers. In the future, I will be doing more travel pieces. As you may have noticed, Grace and Ivy is in a state of evolution. Lots of changes are to come and I hope you will stick with me. I promise to continue bringing you beautiful posts that hopefully give you some inspiration. Thank you for all your input. I love reading your comments. Till our next adventure…

Have a gorgeous weekend.

xo,

Audio via freesound.org

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Vicarious Vacation # 1 : Casole d’Elsa

Happy Friday and welcome to our Vicarious Vacation. Today, I’m going to whisk us off to the quaint, little town of Casole d’Elsa in the hills of Tuscany. Strolling down the ancient cobblestone alleyways, decadent wine tastings, a visit to the Siena marketplace, a brush with history and of course a large helping of the local food are all on the agenda. Sound good? Okay, come on!

Image via casalecapita

Let me tell you a little bit about this beautiful town. Casole D’Elsa is located in the Tuscany region in the province of Siena. Conveniently located between Florence and Siena, it provides a peaceful respite from the bigger, touristy cities. See map here. Pedestrian friendly streets, intimate cafes and a few notable historic attractions should keep us busy but not overwhelmed. Leaving plenty of time to soak in the Italian sun, sip Chianti and gobble up the local delicacies. Now where are we staying, you ask? Well…

I hope you don’t mind but I booked us into a rather fancy hotel just outside of town. I think we deserve it, don’t you? Welcome to the Relais La Suvera. Steeped in history this medieval fort turned sumptuous Mediterranean villa is our place of relaxation and refuge after all that sightseeing. Sigh…isn’t it simply dreamy!?

Ready to see your room?
Images via Relais La Suvera

Fit for a princess right? Okay, freshen up and let’s go exploring. I know you are tired from the trip but it’s nothing a glass of Chianti can’t fix! Besides, we have massages scheduled later at the spa. Yes, even medieval fortresses in Italy have spas!

Let’s go for a walk…

Press play to listen.

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Am I Hungry? Of course I am! This place looks charming…let’s stop here – Osteria del Caffè Casolani- and have some treats.

Here’s what I’m thinking…wine, cheese & cured meats. The local cheese -Pecorino di Pienza and fresh cold cuts such as salumi di cinta senese, will make the perfect blend of tastes and textures. Creamy and nutty in flavor, the Pecorino is a perfect pairing with the saltiness of the meat and sweetness of the wine.  The celebrated local wine is aptly named Erta, meaning steep slope, indicative of the agricultural landscape of the region. A completely organic wine, it is a lovely blend of 95% Sangiovese grapes and 5% Merlot. Subtle herbal notes and deep cherry overtones will delight your palette! Want more…why don’t we try the testaroli? It’s a crepe like pasta usually combined with pesto. Yummy! This place is famous for it!

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Now to walk off all that scrumptuous food…

Ooh…before we go…is that a little bakery I see?

We had better stop in and grab some dessert! This region is known for its pastries and traditional sweets. One of the oldest treats around is the famous Panforte margherita!  This “spiced bread” is a magical combination of dough, almonds, candied fruit, cinnamon, all spice and a generous sprinkling of powdered sugar. Isn’t it beautiful?

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On to some history…

This is the Collegiata di Santa Maria Assunta, which dates back 1161! The original Roman bell tower still remains with the upper half of the building being constructed in the 14th century. Inside are the sacred tombs of Beltramo Aringhieri, by Marco Romano, and of bishop Tommaso Andrei, by Gano di Fazio.

Directly next to the church lies the Museum of Sacred Arts. A beautiful collection of religious art can be enjoyed here, including the works of Alessandro Casolani and sculptor, Marco Romano.

Got your culture fill? Let’s go to the Siena Markets!

Press play to listen to the bustling market square…

How gorgeous is that fruit?

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Don’t you love all the amazing colors and textures?

I don’t know about you but the hotel spa is calling my name…let’s head back and end our trip on a relaxing note.

You go on and get your massage. I’m heading down to the hot pool for a nice soak…so lovely…

Images via Relais La Suvera Spa

I hope you enjoyed your day in the Tuscan countryside. Loved vicariously traveling with you! I learned a lot and loved seeing this little corner of the world. The village of Casole d’Elsa was enchanting, the food delectable and the Siena markets were utterly inspiring.

Join me again next Friday, when we head to Spain!

Have a beautiful weekend!

xo,

audio files via freesound.org

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Filed under Dreams, Food, photography, Recipes, spas, Travel

BFF weekend

Images via Spencer

One of my best friends is flying into Portland tomorrow and I’m so excited! We haven’t seen each other for almost 4 years, but I know that as soon as we sit down together and start chatting it will be like no time has passed at all.

I love that. That simple, authentic connection that knows no time line. It’s rare and so precious.

We have a number of VERY important things to do while she’s here:

1. sushi

2. mani pedi’s

3. talk all night

4. drink far too much wine

5. repeat number 4

Since our house is on the market and is too tiny for guests we rented a super hip retro house from VRBO for the weekend. Check it out here. Can’t wait!

My cold is still here but I’m determined to rally!

Hope you have a fun filled weekend!

xo,

Ivy

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